2014-03-24 AUSTRALIA

Marist schools of the Province of Australia

Between 10 and 12 March, the Principals of the 53 Marist schools of the Province of Australia gathered for a conference at The Hermitage, Mittagong, near Sydney. Every second year they gather as a Province-wide group of Principals, while in the alternate years they join with other members of their leadership teams for the much bigger Australian Marist Schools Conference. As usual, the 2014 Conference was a mixture of formation, discussion of current priorities and directions, and also a time to enhance everyone’s mutual knowledge and collegiality as Marist leaders. 

A major activity of the Conference was a workshopping of the recent doctoral dissertation of Jennifer Elvery from Marist College Ashgrove. Jennifer looked at the possibilities and the challenges for those in middle leadership roles (e.g. heads of department, heads of house, pastoral coordinators) to lead in a Marist way.

A second major topic of discussion, to which two sessions were devoted, was the launch this year of the Marist Association of St Marcellin, the new canonical entity to which Australian Marists will be invited to join.

Other topics included: 

* evaluation of the various formation programmes offered by the Province to Marists
* planning for next year’s conference
* launch of a new “app” for Marist Schools Australia, to operate on smartphones and tablets
* the schools’ engagement with the current national inquiry into child abuse
* directions for Marist Youth Ministry
* engagement of schools with Marist Solidarity Australia

A feature of the Conference was the Marian style of the prayer and liturgy, with an emphasis on simplicity, pondering and also joyful celebration.  During the Conference Eucharist, there was the formal induction of St Francis de Sales College, Leeton, to membership of Marist Schools Australia, following a three-year process of discernment. It was a wonderful moment to welcome this school back to the Marist family.  The Brothers established the school in the 1950s, and withdrew thirty years ago.  The school is now completely led by lay people, and it is they who have decided to re-introdice Marist spirituality to shape their identity and mission.

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